I don’t really game that much. Up until this point in my life, the only board games I had really played were games like Monopoly and Clue and trading card games like Pokemon. All of those ended up with me rage quitting because my aunts and uncles sucked all the fun out of it and I just avoided playing board games for the rest of my adolescent years.
My dad stopped playing Dungeons and Dragons when he joined the Army, so I have massive nerd knowledge gaps when it comes to RPGs. We had a few consoles, but the kind of games I played didn’t hold attention for long or I just got frustrated and rage quit. I just played the Portal franchise this year if you want to know how behind on gaming I am.
Still, when you have a close circle of friends who game pretty avidly, they start finding ways to bring you into their world. One of those games is King of Tokyo.
King of Tokyo is a board game created by Richard Garfield, who is known for creating Magic: The Gathering, and is published by IELLO Games. The concept of the game is simple: Either destroy Tokyo or kill everyone else that is trying to.
Each player picks a kaiju to control. There are six in the main game, but if you play with the Power Up! expansion, you can add a seventh monster called Pandakai. Expect Cyber Bunny to be the first to be claimed when playing with a bunch of friends because really, who doesn’t want to play a giant robot controlled by a bunny?
When reading off the rules the first time, the game seems a little convoluted. However, once you get into the groove of it, the game picks up really fast and can get pretty competitive on the board. You have six dice at your disposal and you get three re-rolls to accumulate the dice you want. The dice will either give you life, attack, energy or victory points. The energy is especially helpful for buying power up cards that can make your game and break everyone else’s.
Victory points are also helpful in your quest to destroy Tokyo, but I’m going to level with you here: You probably won’t win the game on victory points. Winning on victory points is kind of like the feral chicken from Orange is the New Black. It exists, you see it once in a while, and it seems attainable at moments, but it’s still kind of a myth. I have done it, but it’s the only time I’ve seen it done in the games I’ve played so far.
How you’ll usually win is being the last one standing at the end of the game. This is done by dealing attacks and healing yourself. You’re a little more susceptible to damage if you’re in Tokyo, but you have just as much opportunity to dish it out to everyone else. This is why power up cards are helpful, so don’t shy away from collecting energy to strategize how you’re going to take everyone down and destroy Tokyo like the King Kaiju you are.
So far, there is one expansion to the game titled Power Up! It adds another level to the game by giving you a personal deck to draw from that adds personalized power ups to your kaiju. I haven’t gotten to play much with this expansion, but it can be pretty fun if you manage the right rolls to evolve. Otherwise, you’re just getting pummeled by a giant panda. Also, I wouldn’t recommend playing with the expansion on your first play. While it is not super complicated, it’s much easier to go with the initial set of rules on your first play.
Overall, if you’re a newbie gamer like me, King of Tokyo is a great place to start. Deceptively simple and fast moving, it’s a lot of fun to play with friends. It’s pretty family friendly too, so young kids can get in on the kaiju beat ’em up action. I played one of my last games with a nine year old and her dad and it was just as fun as when I’ve played it with adults. Though, the best way to play in my opinion is with Pacific Rim fans. How else can you make drift jokes about a rabbit powered robot?